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Full text of "Today's Wood Worker 1991/1"


1991 - Issues 13-18 


ihWu* ■ ItollhkBta 


Volume 3, Number 1 

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Swiveling Bar Stools How to Bleach Wood Biscuit Joiner Review 


January/February 1991 n Issue 13 






A Router Table for 
Today's Woodworker 

By Rick White 
Our third annual shop 
project is the all 
important router table. 

15 Swiveling Bar Stools 

By Chris Inman 
With sculpted seats 
and built in lumbar 
support, you can get 
real comfortable in 
Chris' swiveling 
bar stools. 

Stave Construction 

By Frank Martin 
We took Frank's clever stave 
construction design and put 
it to the test. It works! 


3 On the Level 23 

We've grown again! Four new 
pages of projects, tips and 

4 Tricks of the Trade 24 

Setting knives, kerfing dowels 
and applying contact cement 
like a pro. 

5 Hardware Hints 26 

The obscure knife hinge is really 
quite easy to install. 

6 Jigs and Fixtures 

When the motor on Richard 28 

Dom's sander/grinder blew, he 
turned to his lathe for help. 

Finishing Thoughts 

Even the beginning woodworker 
should keep a bottle of bleach in 
the shop. 

What's in Store 

Now that most woodworkers 
have a router in the shop, what's 
next? The biscuit joiner! 

Reader's Gallery 

Our first expanded gallery 
presents work from the 
Broolcfield Craft Center. 

Today's Wood 

You won't like splitting elm, but 
you'll love how it finishes. 

Safety First! 

Learning how to properly operate power 
and hand tools is essential for developing 
safe woodworking practices. For purposes 
of clarity, necessary safety guards have 
been removed from the equipment shown 
in some of the photos and illustrations in 
Today's Woodworker. We in no way 
recommend using this equipment without 
safety guards and urge readers 
to strictly follow manufacturer's 
instructions and safety precautions, 


Vol. 3, No. 1 (Issue 13) 



Art Director 

Associate Editor 

Associate Art Director 

Production Manager 

Technical Illustrator 

Copy Editor 

Project Designer 


Director of Marketing 

Circulation Director 

Gratia tin h Coordinator 


Editorial Advisors 




Contributing Editors 

Today's Woodworker, (ISSN: 1041-8113) 

is published bimonthly (January, March, 
May, July, September, November) for 
$21.95 per year by Rockier Press, 21801 
Industrial Blvd., Rogers, MN 55374-0044. 
Second class postage paid at Rogers. MN 
and additional mailing offices. 

POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Today's Woodworker, PO Box 6782. 
Syracuse NY 13217-9916. 

One year subscription price, $21.95 (U.S. 
and possessions); $28.95 (U.S. currency 
— other countries). Single copy price, 
$3,95; (other countries, $5.50, U.S. curren- 
cy). Send new subscriptions to Circulation 
Dept., Today's Woodworker, PO Box 6782, 
Syracuse NY 13217-9916. Subscribers are 
welcome fo submit project proposals, tips 
and techniques to the editor, Today's Wood- 
worker, Box 44, Rogers, MN 55374. If you 
have a problem with your subscription, 
please write lo the Circulation Coordinator 
at the Rogers address shown above. 

Today's Woodworker is a trademark of 
Rockier Press. 

Copyright 1991, by Rockier Press. 
All rights reserved. 



We're growing again! Our first issue in 
January 1989 was 20 pages. In short 
order we brought il up Lo 24 pages and 
now, with this issue, we're moving up lo 
28 pages. Our gallery has grown from 
one page to two pages and Today's Wood 
has been moved from the table of eon- 
tents to the back page. In addition, we'll 
be opening up the project articles a little 
more, expanding the art and making sure 
that: every step gets fully covered. Beyond 
that, we'd like to hear from you, the read- 
er, when it comes to using our new pages. 
For instance, what about a simple, one 
weekend project every issue? 

It's January again, SO it must be time for 
a cover project for the workshop, Willi a 
European Workbench (1990) and a tool 
center (1989) behind us, the consensus 
was that the next most important shop 
project would he a good router tabic. 
There's just no other tool quite as versa- 
tile as a router, and no better way to use it 
than in a specially designed table. 

As we enter our third year, we're more 
eager than ever to bear from you. Please 
submit your tricks of the trade, project 
proposals and photos of your best pieces 
for the gallery. 

0lMy Mjjs}J*<^- 

I enjoyed building our futon sofa-bed 
featured In the July/August 1989 issue, 
and would like to offer the following two 
corrections. The templates for parts 12, 
16, 17 on page 10 do not match up with 
your material list on page 13. The tem- 
plates show a height of 5" total, includ- 
ing the tenons. The material list reflects 
a 5'/?" total, which is correct. Headers 
should extend the height of each of 
these pieces to match the material list 
(keeping the tenons at 1/2"). A more 
obvious error in figure 2 shows the top 
of piece #13 being 27V2" long. If you 
start by marking the bottom 27" long 
and draw a 14° angle oft the back, the 
top of piece 13 will actually be 28" long. 
You will get a real workout on mortise 
and tenon joinery as I counted 32 of 
these joints. I cut all of the mortises and 
tenons with a router. Keep up these 
types of unique and interesting projects. 

Jim Barrett 
Redmond, Washington 

TW responds: Thanks for the corrections 

Jim, and for the photo of your beautiful piece. 
All back issue sates of that issue will now 
include a correction sheet, thanks to you. 

My father-in-law and i are amateur 
woodworkers and have been subscrib- 
ing lo your magazine for about a year, in 
your Nov/Dec 1990 issue 12 you fea- 
tured a beautiful butternut bureau which 
looks easy to build. Does your project 
designer (Dan Jacob son) have some 
ideas for a matching bed frame on the 
drawing board? I am always excited to 
get the next issue of Today's Woodworker. 

Dean Vonfeldt 
Cumming, Georgia 

TW responds: Dan does have some rough 
sketches, but we're still wondering whether to 
match the bureau or undertake a different 
styte altogether A few more letters like yours 
could easily settle the issue 

I enjoy your magazine very much. After 
reading the current issue, I am waiting 
to try to revive my long lost skill at spin- 
ning tops. The real purpose of this letter 
is to chide you on your choice of words 
in describing the clamping device used 
to hold wood firmly while it is being 
worked on. Most of us call this a vise, 
but t have noticed that a goodly number 
of woodworking publications insist on 
calling it a vice, although I can detect 
no moral connotations in such a device. 
You not only printed Mr. Watson's letter 
with this error, but you added your edito- 
rial comment and compounded the error 
by repeating it. Sentence your proof 
reader to a session with the dictionary! 
R. H. Breckenridge 
Lindale, Texas 

TW responds: Or maybe we should just put 
his thumbs in a vise for this vice! 

I enjoy your publication very much. Not 
too bulky, good quality paper, good 
graphics, no extraneous material, good 
projects, and it doesn't take forever to 
read! A very nice publication. 

Robert E. Sakett, Sr. 
Citrus Heights, California 



Setting Jointer Knives and Repairing Finishes 

When each knife 
moves the gauge an 
equal amount the 
jointer is set. 

For safety, unplug the jointer and use 
the puity belt to rotate the blade. 

Setting Jointer Knives 

Most of us sharpen our jointer knives 
far less often than we really should 
because setting up the jointer correct- 
ly can be so difficult. Here is a simple 
method that makes the task so much 
easier that you'll never hesitate to 
remove your jointer's knives again. 
Joint a scrap of wood that is 15 to 18 
inches long. Make four or five marks 
at 1/8" increments, beginning five 
inches from one end of the scrap. I 
make a new gauge every time I 
change cutters to insure that the 
gauge is flat. 

Install the sharpened blades into 
the cuttcrhead and adjust their height 
using the wooden gauge. Span the 
cutterhead gap with the gauge, align- 
ing the first mark on the gauge with 
the edge of the in-feed table. Rotate 
the cutterhead, raising the blade until 
it snags the gauge and moves it 
slightly. Very small adjustments of the 
cutter screws will move the blade a 
lot (each 1/8" movement of the gauge 
represents about .001" rise in blade 
height). I set the cutter screws after 
the gauge moves exactly 1/4 inch at 
the left and the right ends of each 
blade. The .002" blade height gives 
me clean, snipe-free cutting. 

Now that I've mastered this 
method, I can accurately change the 
knives in my lOVa" jointer in five to 
ten minutes. 

Bill Flemming 
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin 

Preventing Wood Filler Dry-out 

The most common problem when 
working with canned plastic wood 
putty or pre-stained fillers is that the 
product quickly dries out due to 
rapidly evaporating solvents. 

To extend its working time and 
reduce waste, take a tablespoon of 
putty or filler out of its container and 
put it in a plastic sandwich bag. Twist 
the bag tightly around the material 
and slit a small corner of the bag. 
When you need a little, jusl squeeze 
the ball of putty or filler and a small 
quantity will ooze from the corner of 
the bag. The material in the bag 
remains moist and the bulk of the 
supply is kept fresh in its sealed can. 
Larry Bedaw 
N. Swanzey, New Hampshire 

Applying Contact Cement 

Applying contact cement can be a 
very messy job, but I've come up with 
a few tricks that will keep it under 
control. Start with a three inch dis- 
posable roller with a plastic handle. 
Put a drop of oil on both ends of the 
plastic roller arm so that the roller 
head turns smoothly. This also helps 
to keep the excess contact cement 
from seeping into the roller head. 

When you're ready to start, pour 
your contact cement into a 1" deep 
Tefloncoated baking pan and tip it so 
it can be used like a paint roller tray. 
Always apply thin coats, one coat on 



nonporous surfaces, and two on 
porous surfaces. When you're fin- 
ished applying the contact cement, 
pour most of the excess from the pan 
back into the can, and let the rest dry. 
You'll find that the contact cement 
can be easily pulled out of the pan if 
allowed to fully dry. If any remains 
behind, a small amount of acetone 
can be used to clean up. 

To clean the plastic parts of the 
roller, pour a good 1/2" of contact sol- 
vent into a coffee can and soak the 
parts overnight. In the morning 
remove your parts and wipe off any 
excess contact cement. The plastic 
parts will be slightly swollen, but if 
you leave them out to dry, they'll 
return to their original size. 

Jan McNalley 
Tulsa, Oklahoma 

Quick Dowel Fits 

Sometimes new dowels are just a lit- 
tle oversized. Instead of spending lots 
of time and energy reaming out the 
hold or sanding the dowel to fit, try 
making a simple saw kerf cut in the 
end of the dowel equal in length to 
the depth of the hole. 

Alice & Robert Tapper 
Canton, South Dakota 

(More Tricks on page 7) 

■ • 

Today's Woodworker pays from 
$20.00 (for a short tip) to $100.00 (for 
an elaborate technique) for all Tricks 
of the Trade published. Send yours to 
Today's Woodworker, Dept. T/T, 
Rogers, MN 55374-0044. 



The Elegant and Subtle Knife Hinge 

mong the most graceful types of 
hardware available are knife hinges. 
Unfortunately, they languish in rela- 
tive obscurity, particularly when com- 
pared to European concealed hinges 
and the common butt hinge. This is 
due, in part, to confusion surrounding 
the use and installation of knife 
hinges. In fact these are very simple 
devices to install, as long as you rec- 
ognize their limitations. 

As with most hardware, if you want 
to incorporate a knife hinge into your 
project you must start at the design 
stage. That's because they will only 
work in applications where the cabi- 
net's top and bottom extend over the 
top and bottom edges of the door. 
The knife hinges are then mortised 
into the top and bottom door edges 
and, correspondingly, into the top and 
bottom panels of the cabinet. The 
depth of the mortise should equal the 
thickness of the hinge leaf. 

Two types of cabinets fulfill the gen- 
eral requirements listed above. In the 
first type, refered to as an inset door 
cabinet, the door edges are complete- 
ly surrounded by the carcase walls. 
The second cabinet variation, called 
an overlay door cabinet, is formed 
when the door covers the front edge 
of the side walls. 

If your project design will accomm- 
date a knife hinge you'll find three 
common types are available, in a vari- 
ety of finishes. The most common 
type is the straight variety. This hinge 
is generally used on overlay doors. 
The hinge is positioned so that the 
pivot point is at the outside edge of 
the door, enabling the door to swing 
about 210°. This is a real advantage if 
you need full access to the interior of 
the cabinet. 

The second type of knife hinge is 
"L" shaped and is most commonly 
used for inset doors. The mortise is 
cut into the top and bottom edges of 
the door, but takes a right turn to exit 
out the front of the door. After instal- 
lation a small portion of the hinge 



Knife hinges are the 
perfect choice for a 
simple design. 

Matching mortises are cut in the 
door edge and on the cabinet 

Straight Hinge 

Overlay door 

"L" Kinge 

Inset door 

45° Hinge 

Overlay door 

shows on the cabinet's face. In this 
installation the "L" shaped hinge 
allows the door to swing 180°. 

A third type of hinge claims the 
middle ground between the first two 
varieties. This design features a 45° 
angled turn leading to the pivot point 
and is normally used on doors over- 
laying the cabinet sides. As an over- 
lay door hinge this style offers 
greater opening capacity, allowing the 
door to lay flat against the outside of 
the cabinet wall. 

All three knife hinge styles can be 
adapted to either inset or overlay cab- 

inets. The "L" shaped hinge, for 
instance, can also be used on overlay 
doors if you want the door to pivot 
widely away from the cabinet, per- 
haps to swing clear of an adjacent 

Installing knife hinges leaves only a 
tiny bit of exposed hardware on the 
cabinet surface, and what docs show 
is very elegant and subtle. In most 
cases the hinge is hardly noticeable 
on the face of the cabinet, making it 
an ideal choice when your goal is 
highlighting the qualities of the wood 
or the simplicity of your design. 



An Ideal Lathe Attachment 

By Richard Dorn 



When the loud motor on my 
sander/grinder stopped working 
recently, I didn't even think about get- 
ting a new one. I simply tossed the 
motor, made a few quick modifica- 
tions, and then mounted the 
sander/grinder on the outboard side 
of my wood turning lathe. 

As a result, I enjoy this tool more 
now than I did when it was brand new. 
The loud noise is gone, the speed can 
be easily adjusted, it has more power, 
and it is a smoother working sander 
because it's now a stationary tool. 

Most of the sander /grinders avail- 
able these days are designed to use 
1" x 30" or 1" x 42" sanding belts 
which travel over three flat pulleys 
arranged in a triangular pattern. The 
lower pulley is attached directly to the 
motor and serves to drive the sanding 
belt. The top pulley, which is kept 
under spring tension to keep the sand- 
ing belt tight, is vertically aligned with 
the lower pulley and generally fea- 
tures a simple mechanism to change 
the angle of the pulley axle so the belt 
tracks straight. A third "idler" pulley is 
located at the rear of the vertical 
frame to allow the work surface of the 
table adequate clearance. The table is 
small and a curved or flat metal platen 
is positioned behind the sanding belt 
to absorb the pressure of the work 
during sanding operations. 

When I decided to mount the 
sander/grinder on the outboard side 
of my lathe, I started by removing the 
motor housing and the motor. Next 
the attached lower pulley, table, and 
platen arrangement were removed so 
all that remained was a vertical and 
horizontal frame, the top pulley, and 
the idler pulley. The all important 
spring-loaded belt tightening mecha- 
nism remained intact as well, along 
with the belt tracking system. If you 
were to build such a jig from scratch, 
these two parts would prove to be the 
most difficult to duplicate. Both are 
essential for smooth operation. 

To replace and duplicate the size of 
the original lower drive pulley, I lami- 
nated together some hardwood, 

The new lower drive pulley is 
turned right in place on Hie 
outboard faceplate, which 
serves as the power source 
for the salvaged strip sander . 

screwed it to the outboard faceplate 
and turned it in place. The completed 
pulley was varnished and covered 
with anti-skid tape to prevent slippage 
of the sanding belt. 

At this point, the sanding attach- 
ment was constructed by trial and 
error. When you're putting a jig like 
this together, much depends on the 
particular lathe that it is being 
attached to. In my case, a piece of ply- 
wood was placed against the outboard 
end of the lathe and secured with 
bolts and wing nuts for easy removal. 

Richard Hum's strip sander 
was given new life after the 
original motor blew. With a 
few modifications, the unit 
now runs off the outboard 
faceplate of the lathe. Dorn 
notes that with an alternative 
platen arrangement and a 
piano hinge, the tap could 
easily be tilted to hone 
turning tools. 

A flat plywood surface was attached 
to that piece at a right angle and care- 
fully braced so it would support the 
vertical frame of the sander as well as 
its two vertical table supports. The 
size of the table was also increased 
slightly at this point and positioned 
just above the headstock of the lathe. 
I constructed a new platen out of 1" 
thick wood and fastened it to the 
table top from underneath. I found 
that it's much more stable than the 
original metal platen as pressure is 
applied during sanding tasks. This 


The lower 

drive pulley 



to the 



This exploded view illustrates how simple it is 
to expawl a lathe's capabilities by using the 
outboard faceplate as a power source. 

arrangement does eliminate the pos- 
sibility of tilting the table, but I want- 
ed to keep the construction simple 
and lightweight anyway, so this was 
not a problem for me. If you want the 
tabic to tilt, you could easily incorpo- 
rate an adjustable lid support and 
come up with another way to attach 
the platen. I do recommend adding a 
small shield at the top of the sander 
to deflect any material that the sand- 
ing belt carries over the top pulley. 

When I'm ready to use the lathe, it 
only takes a moment to remove the 
sanding belt to prevent needless wear 
on (he pully bearings. 

As mentioned earlier, there are 
many models and sizes of wood turn- 
ing lathes and sandcr/grinders. If 
you're willing to undertake a little 
trial and error construction (which I 
really enjoy) I think you'll find that 
any combination, with the right modi- 
fications, will make an ideal lathe 

■ ■ 

Richard Dorn is a woodworking 
instructor at Oelwein Community 
Senior High School., 


Keep Some Alcohol 
in the Shop 

White rings from drinking glasses 
and flower pots are a common form 
of water damage to shellac or lac- 
quer finishes. The white color is 
caused by water absorbed by the fin- 
ish, and can be removed by wiping 
the finish with alcohol. Alcohol has 
a much greater affinity for water 
than shellac or lacquer, and will 
absorb the water, pulling it off of the 
finish. However, alcohol will dis- 
solve shellac and is a component of 
many lacquer thinners, so great 
care must be taken to avoid damag- 
ing the finish. The risk of damage 
can be reduced by selecting the 
right type of alcohol. 

Three different alcohols are com- 
mercially produced: Methanol (also 
known as wood alcohol or methyl 
alcohol), ethanol (also called grain 
alcohol, denatured alcohol or ethyl 
alcohol), and isopropanol (also 
called isopropyl alcohol). Methanol 
is considered the best solvent but 
it's very toxic, so ethanol is substi- 
tuted whenever possible. Iso- 
propanol is the least effective sol- 
vent and is therefore the best choice 
for removing white rings. 

Fortunately low moisture iso- 
propanol is inexpensively available 
at most gas stations as fuel line drier 
(in my area, the key brand name is 
"Isoheet"). Beware of the cheaper 
grades because they tend to use 
methanol (check the label, a toxicity 
warning is required with methanol). 

To use, lightly dampen a soft cloth 
and gently wipe the white area. Sev- 
eral applications may be required, 
but allow any alcohol left on the fin- 
ish to dry between applications to 
avoid softening the finish. As a test I 
shellaced some birch plywood, left a 
wet glass on it, then removed the 
white ring. Elapsed time from apply- 
ing the shellac to wiping it with alco- 
hol was less than 12 hours, yet the 
alcohol caused no damage. 

Above all do not try to use rub- 
bing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is iso- 
propanol diluted with water to 
lessen the chance of allergic skin 
reactions. The combination of alco- 
hol and water will soften the finish 
and drive water deeply into it, caus- 

ing even worse damage. 

Finally, if your stain results from 
spilled liquor or nail polish remover, 
alcohol will not work. In this case, 
the stain must be removed by sand- 
ing the damaged area to remove the 
discolored finish. If the finish is not 
sanded down to bare wood, polish- 
ing the area with pumice and rotten- 
stone will restore the shine. If you 
must penetrate to the bare wood to 
remove the stain, try French polish- 
ing to repair the finish. 

Allen Grantham 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 

To electrical 

Push button 

Stationary Tool Safety Switch 

Don't discard that old pole lamp 
with the push-button switch in the 
base. With simple modifications this 
fixture will free your hands from 
reaching under a router table or saw 
to turn the machine on and off. 

Remove the bulbs and all but the 
last section of the pole. Mount a two 
gang receptacle on the base, wiring 
it to the switch and adding a power 
cord with a plug to reach an outlet. 
Insert the plug into a hot outlet and 
plug your machine's cord into the 
receptacle mounted on the lamp 
shroud. With a slight tap of the foot 
on the base mounted switch you'll 
start the machine. Putting a rubber 
crutch tip on the end of the pole 
makes it easy to move the foot oper- 
ated switch from one machine to 

Robert 0. Wendel 
Marlboro, New Jersey 


Gear up for absolute precision with 
this rugged shop workhorse. 

By Rick White 



As is our custom, the first 
issue of each year features a 
tool for the shop. For our 
premiere issue in 1989 we 
built a rolling tool center for storing 
many of our hand and portable power 
tools. The following January we con- 
structed a beautiful maple and padauk 
European workbench, which has 
been very popular with our readers. 
And this year's first issue brings what 
we consider to be the next most 
important piece of shop equipment, 
the router table. 

Designing a router table involves 
two challenging requirements, and 
our group of woodworking experts 
has come up with very good solu- 
tions. The first challenge is making 
the router easily accessible for 
exchanging bits or adjusting their 
height. On our cabinet the router can 
be removed through the table top for 
major alterations or adjusted from the 
front for raising and lowering the bits. 
The second hurdle is designing a 
fence that works for every possible 
routing operation. Our system begins 
with a conventional fence that adjusts 
quickly for general routing. With the 
addition of an Incra jig attachment, 
the fence system offers precise, incre- 
mental adjustments for routing per- 
fect dovetail joints, finger joints or 

Several other minor considerations 
must also be met. In our shop tools 

After reviewing 
many router 
table designs, 
tiie Today's 
Wood worker's 
staff nicked 
filuni cuts from 
each for tills 
table. Key 
concerns were 

accuracy, easy 
access, and tool 
and bit storaye. 





i— i 




1 1 /f" access 









1 V2" 




1W I 


-— 3" 







MATERIAL LIST - cabinet 

1 Side Wall Rails (4) 

1 Vie" x3"x14" 

2 Side Wall Panels (2)* 

3/4" x 14" x 23* 

3 Side Wall Stiles (4) 

1 Vie" x 3" x 293/4" 

4 Bottom Shelf (1)* 

3/4" x 19" x 253/4" 

5 Center Shelf (1)* 

3/4" x1 9" x 253/4" 

6 Back Panel (1)* 

1/4" x 253/4" x 29" 

7 Web Frame Rails (2} 

3/4"x2Wx 143/4" 

8 Web Frame Stiles (2) 

3/4" x2'/2"x 253/4" 

9 Drawer Dividers (2)* 

3/4" x 7V2" x 19" 

10 Drawer Divider Banding (2) 

3/4" x 3/4" x 7V2" 

11 Upper Section Divider (1)* 

3/4" x 1 9" x 1 55i" 

12 Shelf Banding (2) 

3/4" x 3/4" x 253/4" 

13 Upper Divider Banding (1) 

3/4" x 3/4" x 153/4" 

14 Walnut Plugs (24) 

3/8" Diameter 

15 Casters (4) 

2 Swiveling & 2 Fixed 

16 Piano Hinge (2) 

1'/4" x 12" 

17 Door Catches (2) 

White Plastic 



Figure 1 : Side view (left) ami top web frame with upper section divider (right). 

need to be mobile, so we put wheels 
on the router cabinet to get it out of 
the way when it's not needed. The 
drawers provide storage space for 
router bits and accessories, and the 
lower cupboard shelters power tools 
from all the dust in the shop. The 
addition of an electrical strip on the 
right side of the cabinet is a handy 
feature which provides easy access to 
the on/ off switch, 

I built the router cabinet from white 
oak, using a half sheet of 3/4" ply- 
wood, If hoard feet of 1 Vie" thick 
solid stock and 4 board feet of 3/4" 
thick material. Making the top 
requires a half sheet of 1/2" thick 
baltic birch plywood and 
another half sheet of 3/4" 
baltic birch plywood. In 
addition to the lumber 
and plywood, I used a 
piece of plastic laminate 
to cover the router table 
surface and a roll of oak 
iron on edgebanding to 
cover the exposed ply- 
wood edges. 

Building The Cabinet 

Begin constructing the 
router table by making 
the frame and panel sides. 
You'll want to continually 
refer to Figure 1 while 

building the router cabinet as it 
details all of the parts and the joint 
locations. The two side walls are 
made of 3/4" plywood surrounded by 
lVieV thick solid oak frames. Cut the 
frame rails (pieces 1) and plywood 
panels (pieces 2) to size and rout one 
edge of the rails with a 1/4" 
roundover bit. Join the rails to the 
plywood with biscuits as shown in 
Figure 1. Now cut the stiles (pieces 
3) to match the overall length of the 
panels. Hold the stiles up to the pan- 
els and mark the points where the 
frame pieces intersect, then rout the 
length of the edge between the marks 
with the roundover bit. join the stiles 

To make this jiy, fasten a straight, narrow hoard to an oversized piece of 
hardhoard, then rout the edge of the jig with the router and hit you intend to use 
for the dado. Next, align the edge of the jig with the layout line and rout the dado 

to the panels with biscuits. 

After the two side walls are con- 
structed lay them on their faces and 
mark out the dado and rabbet loca- 
tions shown above. The dadoes and 
rabbets are all 3/4" wide and 1/4" 
deep. In the left side wall rout two 
dadoes — one for the bottom shelf 
(piece 4) joint and one for the center 
shelf (piece 13) joint — and rout a rab- 
bet along the top inside edge for 
securing the web frame (pieces 7 and 
8). The right side wall requires 
dadoes for the bottom shelf joint, the 
center shelf joint and the two drawer 
dividers (pieces 9) as well as the top 
rabbet. Use a straight edge jig such 
as the one shown in Figure 
2 to guide the router while 
cutting the dadoes and rab- 
bets. Also, while the panels 
are still laying face down, 
rout a 3/8" deep by 1/4" 
wide rabbet along the back 
edge of each side wall for 
installing the back (piece 6) 

The web frame, which 
secures the router table to 
the cabinet, is made of four 
pieces. Rip and crosscut the 
two rails (pieces 7) and the 
two stiles (pieces 8) to size, 
then join the frame togeth- 
er using the biscuit joiner 


and the smallest size biscuits. 

Rip 3/4" thick plywood for the bot- 
tom shelf, the center shelf and the 
upper section divider (piece 11) all at 
the same time, then crosscut the 
pieces to length. Glue on the solid 
wood banding (pieces 12 and 13). 
Now cut the two drawer dividers 
(pieces 9) to size and band their front 
edges with solid wood (pieces 10). 

Next, roul the 3/4" wide by 1/4" 
deep dado in the center shelf for 
securing the upper section divider. 
The same size dadoes must also be 
routed into the upper section divider 
for the drawer dividers, as shown in 
Figure 1. Finish up on this piece by 
cutting notches out of the upper cor- 
ners so that it fits around the web 
frame stiles. 

All of the shelf dado joints in the 
side walls are reinforced with screws. 
To accurately drill the pilot holes for 
these #8-2" wood screws, first dry 
assemble the cabinet, then draw the 
three lines on the outside face of each 
side wall to indicate the center of 
each dado or rabbet. One hole is cen- 
tered on each stile and two more are 
spaced on the panel. Drill 3/8" diame- 
ter by 5/16" deep counterbores for 
the plugs and follow the counterbores 
with a 5/32" diameter bit for drilling 
the 2" deep pilot holes. 

One operation that you definitely 
should perform now rather than after 
the cabinet is assembled is drilling 
the pilot holes for the Blum drawer 
slides (pieces 28). Set the Blum slides 
13/16" back from the front edge of 
the right side wall and the upper sec- 
tion divider to allow for the inset 
drawer fronts, and position the slides 
directly above each drawer divider 
dado. Use an awl to mark the screw 
locations and then drill the pilot holes 
with a 1/8" diameter bit. 

Disassemble the cabinet and spread 
glue in the side wall dadoes for the 
bottom shelf and the center shelf. Pull 
these four pieces together once again 
and drive the sixteen screws into 
place. Now spread some more glue in 
the center shelf dado, the two dadoes 
in the upper section divider and in the 
two remaining dadoes in the right 
side wall. Slip the upper section 
divider into the center shelf dado, 
then set the lower drawer divider in 
place, followed by the upper drawer 
divider, and slowly pull the assembly 

Wrap up the carcase assembly by 

d 7 " Top View 

41/4" Side View 

applying glue to the rabbets 
on the side walls and drop on 
the web frame, slipping it over 
the upper section divider. Fas- 
ten the walls to the web frame 
with #8-2" screws, and drib! 
countersunk 5/32" pilot hole 
through the web frame into 
the upper section divider. 
Secure the joints with #8-2" 
screws. Lastly, glue walnut 
plugs (pieces 14) into the 
counterbored holes in the side 
walls, and sand them flush 
when the glue dries. 

MATERIAL LIST - doors & drawers 

18 Door Panels (2)' 


19 Door Banding (4) 

3/4" x 1/2" x 9" Wy> 

20 Door Rails (4) 


21 Drawer Sides (6)* 

1/2" x 3V 2 " x 18" 

22 Drawer Fronts (3)' 

1/2" x 3'/?" x 6W, 

23 Drawer Backs (3)' 

1/2" x 3 V?" X63/4" Vv^ 

24 Drawer Bottoms (3)* 

1/4"x5%" x17V2" 

25 Drawer Faces {3} 


26 Drawer Knobs (3) 

1" Diameter 

27 Door Knobs (3) 

1 V2" Diameter 

28 Drawer Siides (3) 

18" (Slum) 


Drawers and Doors 

The cabinet doors are made from 
3/4" plywood (pieces 18) banded on 
their vertical edges with 3/4" by 1/2" 
banding (pieces 19) and trimmed on 
the top and bottom edges with rails 
(pieces 20). Regularly refer to the 
exploded views of the doors and 
drawers above throughout this sec- 
tion of the project. Cut the plywood 
pieces to size then glue on the band- 
ing strips. Now cut the rails and join 

them to the plywood with biscuits. 

The drawers are made with a sim- 
ple joint which is very durable. Cut 
the 1/2" thick plywood drawer sides 
(pieces 21), fronts (pieces 22) and 
backs (pieces 23) to the sizes shown 
in the material list. Next, install a 
dado blade in the table saw and set it 
to cut 1/4" wide by 1/4" deep 
grooves. Clamp a spacer block onto 
the tablesaw's rip fence and, using a 
miter gauge, pass the drawer sides 
over the blade to cut dadoes 1/4" 


' Threaded 

Use 1/4"-20 threaded inserts and 1" lony hulls to 
hold the interchangeable insert plates in place. 

Position the laminate, then remove the sticks one 

at a lime, rollinrj the laminate down as yon mo. 

from the each end. 

Move the rip fence to align the 
edge of the spacer block with the 
dado blade and make the 1/4" wide 
by 1/4" thick tongues at the ends of 
the front and back pieces to fit into 
the dadoes in the drawer sides. Read- 
just the blade to cut a 7/32" dado and 
move the rip fence 1/4" away from 
the blade (remove the spacer block) . 
Cut a dado on the inside face of all 
the drawer pieces for holding the bot- 
toms in place. Cut the drawer bot- 
toms (pieces 24) to size and dry 
assemble the three units. Once the fit 
is satisfactory, glue the drawer parts 
together and sand them thoroughly. 

The drawer faces (pieces 25) are 
made from solid oak and are cut to fit 
the drawer openings with a 1/16" gap 
all around. Cut this stock and attach it 
to the drawer fronts from the inside 
with a couple of #8-1" screws. With 
the drawers and the doors completed, 
drill the holes for attaching the knobs 
(pieces 26 and 27). You'll need to 
counterbore the drawer fronts to 

allow the knob screws to bridge the 
combined thickness of the front and 
face. Mount the doors to the cabinet 
with surface mounted piano hinges 
(piece 16) and screw the door's roller 
catches (pieces 17) in place. As usual, 
the back panel (piece 6) is the last 
piece to make for the cabinet. Cut this 
out of 1/4" plywood, but don't nail it 
onto the cabinet until after the top is 

The Table Top 

The table top is made with two layers 
of plywood, which accomodate the 
two tracks for the fence system and 
give the table as much vibration resis- 
tance as possible. The top of the table 
is covered in plastic laminate, provid- 
ing a slick surface to slide the stock 
over and making it easy to clear off 
wood chips and dust. While building 
the table top, continually refer to the 
exploded view drawing at right on 
page 13 as il lays oul all the details for 
constructing the top and the fenee. 

The first step in constructing the 
table is to cut a piece for the top 
(piece 29) to the shape shown at right 
from 1/2" thick baltic birch plywood, 
and another piece in the same shape 
from 3/4" baltic birch plywood for the 
sub-top (piece 30). Clamp the two 
pieces together and sand all the 
edges smooth. Use a sabersaw to cut 
1 l k" corner radiuses, and sand all the 
corners smooth. 

Take the clamps off the plywood 
and set the top aside for the moment. 
Chuck a 3/4" mortising bit in the 
router and attach an edge guide. 
Now, rout 5/8" deep fence adjustment 
tracks in the sub-top, following the 
positions shown in the drawing. Once 
the grooves are routed, layout the 
rectangular insert area as shown in 
the drawing and drill a 1/2" diameter 
hole at the inside of each corner. Use 
a sabersaw to cut out the insert area, 
then sand the edge of the hole 
smooth. Drill the pilot holes for the 
1/4" threaded inserts at both ends of 
the opening as shown in Figure 3. 

Before gluing the two top pieces 
together, cut the rectangular insert 
area out of the top piece of baltic 
birch plywood. You'll notice that the 
hole in the top is larger than the hole 
in the sub-top. The difference in the 
two holes creates a sturdy ledge to 
support the insert plates and the 

Liberally spread glue over the sub- 

top, keeping it at least 1/2" back from 
the fence adjustment track dadoes, 
and lay the top onto the sub-top. 
Clamp the two pieces together, mak- 
ing sure the edges line up perfectly, 
and let the glue dry overnight. The 
next day, clean up any glue squeeze- 
out and apply oak iron on veneer edg- 
ing to the table's edges. 

Cover the surface of the top with 
plastic laminate, which is easy materi- 
al to work with if you take your time 
and always remember that once any- 
thing touches the contact cement it's 
there forever. Cut a piece of laminate 
(piece 31) about one inch larger than 
the top all the way around and lay it 
upside down on your workbench. 
Clean the plywood and the bottom of 
the laminate thoroughly, removing 
sawdust or particles of any kind. 
Apply an even coat of non-flammable 
contact cement to both surfaces and 
let it dry, which usually takes about 
20 minutes. After the first coat is dry, 
apply a second coat and let it dry. 
Now lay about eight narrow sticks 
across the table top and set the lami- 
nate on top of the sticks (See Figure 
4). The sticks enable you to situate 
the laminate on the table before the 
two pieces meet and permanently 
bond. Begin removing the stickers at 
one end of the top and press the lami- 
nate to the surface of the plywood. 
Use a jay roller to press the laminate 
down once the surfaces are making 
contact, but avoid rolling the unsup- 
ported insert plate area. If you don't 
have a jay roller then use a hammer 
and tap against a pine block over the 
entire laminate surface. Once you've 
applied pressure to all points on the 
table's surface, trim any laminate 
overhanging the top with your router 
and a piloted flush cutting bit. Also, 
drill a 1/2" starter hole through the 
laminate near one inside corner of (he 
insert plate area, then run the router 
around the rectangular opening to 
uncover the hole. 

The insert plates are laminated on 
both sides, making them thicker than 
the top by 1/16". As a result, the 
insert area's ledge must be lowered 
for the top surface to be even. Chuck 
a piloted straight bit in your router 
and, following the upper edge of the 
insert area, lower the ledge on the 
sub-top by 1/16". Square out each 
corner of the insert area and ease all 
the laminate edges on the top with a 
mill file. Install the threaded inserts 


Front view 


2Vz" ■ 







Back view 

Top view 


4 7 /e" 



1 ] 






1 Va'r 





29 Top(1)* 

1/2" X 30" X 31" 

30 Sub-Top (1)* 

3/4" x 30" x 31" 

31 Plastic Laminate (1) 

1/16" x 48" x 43" 

32 Insert Plates (3)* 

1/2"x8°X 12V?" 

33 Incra Jig (1) 

34 Fence Base(l)* 

3/4" x 3" x 30" 

35 Fence Front (1)* 

3/4" x 4" x 30" 

36 Clamping Knobs (2) 

3/8" Threading 

37 Incra Jig Platform (1 )* 

3/4" x 8V2" x 27" 

i:i the pilot holes at both ends of the 
insert plate area. 

Now put a 3/8" straight bit in your 
router and rout the fence adjustment 
tracks into the top (see drawing 
above). Use an edge guide attach- 
ment on your router base to follow 
the top's side edges, routing the slot 
through the entire 1/2" thick ply- 
wood, centered on the 3/4" adjust- 
ment track in the sub-top. 

Rout the miter gauge slot shown 
above, using a straight edge guide as 
you did for the dadoes on the side 
walls. We use our Delta Unisaw's 

miter gauge for the router table, so I 
cut the slot to match. You should like- 
wise size your miter gauge slot to fit 
your tablesaw's equipment. 

Before moving on to construct the 
fence, laminate both sides of some 
extra 1/2" plywood to make three 
insert plates (pieces 32). Don't try to 
get by with laminating only one side 
of the plywood, as this will cause an 
unbalanced moisture exchange 
between the laminated side and the 
uncovered surface, resulting in 
warped insert plates. Cut the laminat- 
ed plywood to fit the insert hole snug- 

ly then mark the center of each 
insert, at which point you should drill 
a one inch hole in the first insert, a 
1 V2 11 hole in the second, and a 2" hole 
in the third. Be sure to cast' all lami- 
nate edges with a mill file, other- 
wise it easily cuts up your hands. 
When operating the router tabic, 
choose the most appropriate insert 
for the bit you intend to use, and 
make more inserts with different hole 
sizes if you need them. Drill 1/4" pilot 
holes at either end of the inserts for 
securing the plates to the table. Coun- 
tersink the holes so the head of the 


bolt sits below the laminate surface 
and screw one of the plates into place 
with 1" long, l/4"-20 bolts. 

The Fence 

The heart of the fence system is an 
Incra jig (piece 33), which excels at 
making incremental adjustments for 
repetitive cuts. This is a great device, 
but it isn't always needed for general 
router work, so I made it easy to 
remove. When the jig is disconnected 
the fence can move freely over 
greater distances. 

Begin constructing the fence by 
making the main L-bracket from 3/4" 
plywood, first cutting the base (piece 
34) and then the fence front (piece 
35) . Cut the back corners of the base 
to a 3" diameter as shown in the 
drawing on page 13. Laminate the 
fence front and drill the series of 
countersunk holes for screwing the 
front to the base. There's no need to 
laminate the back side of the fence 
front as it is restrained from warping 
by the base connection. Also, drill the 
counterbored bolt holes for securing 
the Incra jig to the front. Screw the 
front to the base and drill a hole at 
each end of the base for the clamping 
knobs (pieces 36) and T-bolts. 

We made the two adjustment track 
T-bolts from standard hardware store 
stock. Take two 3/8" inside diameter 
fender washers and file the hole to fit 
around (he square nut area of a 3/8" 
diameter by 2 ] fe" long carriage bolt. 
Use five minute epoxy to permanently 
glue the washers onto the bolt. Now 

Our router talile is full Df convenient features that wake it a more efficient shop tool. Ample storage 
space in the drawers and cupboard provides roam for routers, hits and other accessories; the 
interchange able insert plates accomodate a wide range of router bit sizes; and the fence system 
adjusts mechanically or the old fashioned way —with a quick tan of the hand at one end. 

hacksaw two sides of the washers 
flush with the head of the carriage 
bolt and file or grind these edges 
smooth. Insert the T-bolts into the 
fence adjustment tracks, set the fence 
assembly onto the bolts and thread 
the clamping knobs into place. 

The Incra jig platform (piece 37) is 
made from 3/4" plywood and has two 
3/8" diameter holes for securing the 
platform to the router table tracks. 
The other four holes shown in the 
drawing hold the jig to the platform 
and need to be countersunk. Drill the 
1/4" diameter holes and countersink 
each one on the underside of the plat- 
form. Insert 1/4" diameter flat head 
bolts through the platform and set 
the Incra jig onto the bolts. Secure 
the assembly with four hex nuts. 

To mount the Incra jig, first undo 
the clamping knobs from the T-bolts 
and remove the fence. Now set the 
Incra jig platform onto the T-bolts and 
thread on the clamping knobs. Butt 
the fence into the front of the Incra jig 
and insert two 1/4" diameter by 1 
1/2" long flat head bolts through the 
fence front's holes and into the Incra 
jigs' mounting slots. Thread the hex 
nuts on firmly. Move the fence into 
position and tighten the clamping 
knobs. Now release the Incra jig knob 
to maneuver the fence into position. 

Final Details 

Set the router table top on the cabinet 
and square the two pieces to each 
other. Now drill a number of 5/32" 
holes up through the web frame into 

the top for #8-1 W screws, making 
sure to stay clear of the tracks. Coun- 
tersink these pilot holes and secure 
the cabinet to the top. 

Disassemble all the parts of the 
router cabinet and the table and apply 
a durable finish to all the wood sur- 
faces. Once the finishing is done drill 
four 1/4" holes in each corner of the 
bottom shelf for the carriage bolts 
that mount the casters (pieces 15) 
under the cabinet. Install the swivcl- 
ing casters near the back edge of the 
cabinet and the stationary casters 
along the front edge. I mounted an 
electrical outlet strip to the outside 
right wall and drilled a 1" access hole 
in the back panel for the router's 
cord. Put all the doors and drawers 
into the cabinet and nail on the back 
panel. Mount your router housing to 
an insert plate, then install the router 
motor in the housing. Now set the 
assembly into the insert hole in the 
table and secure the plate. 

Constructing the router table took 
thirty hours and cost about $245,00 in 
materials. Thinking back over the 
project there really isn't a particularly 
difficult technique or assembly, but I 
do recommend that you pay close 
attention to the layout measurements. 
It's following the small details that 
will make your router table more 
accurate and result in greater returns 
for your time and investment. 


Rick White, a professional woodwork- 
er, serves on the editorial advisory 
board of Today's Woodworker. 



They swivel, they're sculpted and they even offer a touch of lower back support. 
All that and you can still make one of these beautiful bar stools in about eight 
hours. But with a project like this, you never want to make just one. 

By Chris Intnan 

A member of the staff here at 
Today's Woodworker recent- 
ly remodeled his kitchen and 
found himself in need of a 
couple of bar stools to complete his 
new breakfast peninsula. We thought 
this would be an interesting chal- 
lenge, so our project designer was set 
to the task. His design turned out to be 
so popular with people here that we 
knew it would appeal to many of you. 

The most important feature of these 
stools is their swiveling seats, which 
not only makes them more comfort- 
able to sit in but also easier to get in 
and out of. The seat is sculpted into a 
saddle shape similar to the form 
found on many Windsor chairs, and a 
fairly high back ridge was added for 
lumbar support. A stationary platform 
provides structural stability by joining 
with the legs and supporting the 
swiveling seat. 

One of our goals with this design 
was to avoid using a lathe if at all pos- 
sible. Therefore, we made the legs 
and stretchers from commonly avail- 
able oak dowels. We used four 36" 
long by 1 l k" diameter dowel rods for 
the legs, and selected two 36" long, 
3/4" diameter rods for the stretchers. 
Making the seat and platform 
requires 4 Mt square feet of 1 Vis" thick 
red oak and 1 l i2 square feet of l 3 /i" 
thick red oak. Total cost of each stool, 
including the swivel mechanism, 
came in at approximately $50.00. 

Routing The Legs 

In deciding not to use a lathe for this 
project we created a challenge for 
ourselves. Normally, the tenons on 
the ends of all the legs and stretchers 
are turned, but we came up with a 
simple router jig that proved to be 
even easier than using a lathe. We 
also used this set up to round over 
the bottoms of each leg. Before rout- 
ing however, crosscut all the leg dow- 
els to a length of 29", which leaves a 
little extra trimming material to cut 
away after the stool is assembled. 



Mount your router in a router table 
and install a 1/2" roundover bit to 
roundover the bottom edges on the 
four legs (pieces 1). Clamp the fence 
5/8" away from the center of the bit 
and raise the bit so that the outside 
tip of the curve is even with the table 
surface as shown in Figure 1 on the 

next page. Turn on the router, slide 
the dowel into the bit until it contacts 
the bearing and begin spinning the 
dowel in place. Make sure to always 
approach the cutter from the right (as 
you face the bit) so that the rotation 
forces the stock against the fence. 
Now install a 3/8" diameter straight 


Figure 1: The first alteration on the router 
table is rounding over the ends of the 
legs. Clamp the fence 5/8" away from the 
center of the bit, then carefully approach 
the spinning hit from the right side until 
the dowel contacts the bearing. Now 
rotate the dowel In place to roiindover the 
entire edge on the bottom of the leg. 

bit in your router table to form 
the leg tenons, but don't move the 
fence from its position. Clamp a stop 
block to the fence 1 3 /ig" beyond the 
center of the bit in order to limit the 
length of the cuts to 1W. Raise the 
tip of the bit 1/8" above the table sur- 
face. Start the router and slide the 
dowel along the fence until it hits the 
stop block. Completely rotate the 
dowel once to cut the tenon shoulder 
then begin passing the dowel in and 
out, over the cutter a number of times 
to remove the rest of the tenon waste 
(See Figure 2). At this point, drill a 
one inch hole in some scrap wood 
and test your tenon for a snug fit. 


Due to the stools flairing legs, two 
different stretcher lengths are 
required. Cut one of the 3/4" diame- 
ter dowel rods into two pieces 15 5 /s" 
long for the upper stretchers (pieces 
2), and cut the other 3/4" dowel rod 
into two pieces 16 Vic" long for the 
lower stretchers (pieces 3). 

To rout the stretcher tenons, leave 
the bit height at 1/8", clamp the 
router table fence 3/8" from the cen- 
ter of the bit and reposition the stop 
block 7/8" beyond the bit's center. 
Now rout tenons on both ends of 
each stretcher exactly as you routed 
the tenons on the legs. Once again, 


Alignment brad 

^^H^^^^^»\ / 

-***^ \ 3/32" Hole \\ 

^^v-block jig 

Aligning the kerf outs nn the stretchers is done by using a V-block with a brad centered at one end. Set 
the dowel in the V-block and cut a kerf in one tenon, then flip the dowel end for end and slide the kerf 
over the brad. Now make the second cut in perfect alignment with the first kerf. Once you've cut all 
the kerfs, (trill a small hole to help keep the dowel from splitting when the wedges are Inserted. 

Figure 2: The next step on the legs is 
routing the tenons. Install a 1/2" straight 
hit in the router and clamp a stop block to 
the fence. Approach the bit from the right 
until the dowel touches the stop block, 
turn the leg once to cut the shoulder, then 
slide the dowel in and out over the bit to 
remove the rest of the waste. 

before moving on test the fit of 
the tenons in a 1/2" diameter hole. 

You'll need to cut kerfs in all the leg 
and stretcher tenons so the joints can 
be wedged when the stool is assem- 
bled. Make a simple V-block jig about 
13" long to hold these pieces steady 
and to register the kerf alignment as 
shown in Figure 3. Clamp a fence on 
your bandsaw so that if s set half the 
width of your jig away from the blade 
and position a stop block 1" beyond 
the tips of the blades teeth. Place a 
stretcher in the jig and kerf one end 
on the bandsaw. Now flip the stretch- 
er end for end and slip the kerf onto 
the small brad nailed in the hack end 
of the jig. Cut the second kerf and it 
will line up perfectly with the first 
one. Now set the stop block on the 
bandsaw fence 3/4" beyond the tips 
of the blade's teeth for cutting wedge 
slots in the leg tenons. Remove the 
nail from the V-block jig, set a dowel 
in place and cut the kerfs in the leg 
tenons. Once all the kerfs are cut, 
drill a 3/32" diameter hole at the bot- 
tom end of each one to help prevent 
the dowels from splitting when the 
wedges are inserted. 

Before you drill the joint holes in 
the legs, remember that each leg is a 
mirror image of its neighbor. The 
best way to complete the drilling pat- 
tern is to make another V-block jig 


Figure 4: By clamping the V-block to the drill press 
table you can hold the dowels steady and precisely 
line up the joint hole locations with the drill bit. 

that's 30" long. Drive a brad into the 
center of the "V" at one end of the jig 
and slip one leg's tenon onto the brad. 
Measure from the bottom end of the 
leg and mark the upper stretcher joint 
hole location. Now take the V-block 
jig and leg over to the drill press, tilt 
the table to 80° , and clamp the jig to 
the table so the 3/4" diameter drill bit 
is centered on the leg hole location. 
Be sure to keep the V-block parallel 
with the quill on the drill press. Drill 
the 3/8" deep counterbore on this 
leg, and then on the other three legs. 
Keeping your jig clamped in place, 
switch to a 1/2" diameter bit and drill 
through the legs at each counterbore 
location to complete the upper hole 

Set the first leg back in the V-block 
and turn it clockwise 90° so the tenon 
kerf is at a right angle to the brad. 
Measure from the bottom of the leg 
and mark the lower hole location. 
Clamp the V-block on the drill press 
table to align the 3/4" bit with the 
mark and drill the counterbore as 
shown in Figure 4. Take one more 
leg and follow this procedure exactly. 
With the last two legs, however, you'll 
have to turn them counterclockwise, 
instead of clockwise, to bore the 
lower joint holes. 

Before getting into the seat con- 
struction, cut enough wedges for all 
the stretcher and leg tenons.You'll 
need eight 1/2" wide wedges for the 
stretchers and four 1" wide wedges 
for the legs. 

The Platform 

Begin working on the platform (piece 
4) by joining enough 1 Vie" thick oak 
to make a 17" square. After the glue 
has cured cut the slab into a 16" 


1 Legs (4) 


1 W x 1 V4" x 29" 

2 Upper Stretchers (2) 


3 Lower Stretchers (2) 


4 Platform (1) 


5 Seat(i) 


6 Backrest (1) 

13/4 n x18"x8" 

7 Wedges (8) 

3/16" x 1/2" 

8 Wedges (4) 

1/4" x1" 

9 Swivel (1) 

Heavy Duty 


Fiyure 5: Bout the recesses in the platform and seat using a template ami a 
piloted straight hit. Since the router base won't reach the center of the circle 
from the template's original position, move the template over as you yo. 

square. The swivel mechanism is 
7/8" thick, and we didn't want this big 
of a gap showing between the plat- 
form and the seat. To get around this, 
we recessed the swivel into both the 
platform and the seat by 5/16", leav- 
ing a gap of 1/4". Make a 16" by 16" 
template from 1/2" thick plywood, 
then cut a 9" diameter circle out of 
the center of the template with a 
saber saw. Put double sided tape on 
the template and attach it squarely to 
the underside of the oak platform. 
Use a bearing guided straight bit in 
your router to follow the template for 
removing the 5/16" deep recess (See 
Figure 5). You'll have to reposition 
the template halfway through this 
operation for the router to reach the 
center of the circle. Save this template 
so you can use it later for routing the 
underside of the seat. 

Your drill press should still be set at 
an 80° angle, but now install a 1" 
diameter drill bit for boring the leg 
joint holes in the platform, as shown 
in the elevation drawing on the next 

page. After the 
four leg holes are 
bored, reset the 
drill press table to 0° and drill a 5/8" 
diameter access hole in the recessed 
area of the platform. This access hole 
allows you to insert the screws for 
securing the swivel to the seat. 

Now find the center of the 16" 
square platform and use a compass to 
draw a 15 : W circle. Cut the circle on 
the bandsaw and sand the edge 
smooth with a belt sander. Next, set 
the platform upside clown and rout a 
large chamfer on its edge. 

The Seat 

Glue up the seat blank (piece 5) from 
several pieces of 1 Vkj 1 thick material to 
form an 19" wide (across the grain) by 
17" long (with the grain) slab. Later, 
you'll add material to get the extra 
thickness needed for the seat's back 
ridge. Once the glue is dry size the slab 
to its working dimensions of 18" by 16" 
and proceed to rout the recess the 
underside of the slab to hide the swivel 

Figure 6: The bach rest is cut at a steep angle 
and later, using a disc sander, blended with the 
contoured saddle shape of the seat. Set your 
handsaw table at a 50° angle and cut the slah 
freehand along the inside line, but don't cut 
along the bach line until the rirlge is joined to 
the seat and the handsaw table is set at '. 

(following the same operation you used 
on the platform) . 

Draw the contour lines shown in 
the elevation drawing on the next 
page onto your seal and roughly rout 
the waste away using a 3/8" diameter 
straight bit. Operating the router 
freehand, remove the waste from the 
1/8" deep areas first, and then from 
the 1/4" deep areas. In each of these 
operations use your first cuts to 
define the outline of an area and then 
come back to rout away the interior. 

The backrest (piece 6) is made by 
joining enough 1 3 /4 M thick stock to 
form a slab measuring 8" long (with 
the grain) by 18" wide (across the 
grain). Allow the glue to dry, then 
draw the inside curve of the backrest 
onto the slab and use a bandsaw to 
cut along this line at a 50° angle (See 
Figure 6). Now, matching the inside 
curve of the back rest as closely as 
possible to the curved layout line on 

Building these bar stools is an easy project requiring only basic shop 
tools and a weekend of elbow grease. On final assembly, be sure to 
turn the seat upside down and use a magnetized screwdriver to 
attach the swivel and platform to the seat. 

the seat, glue the two pieces together. 
Let the glue dry, then layout and cut 
the seat's outside shape. 

Begin disc sanding the seat and 
back with 36 grit paper to blend all 
the contours together and to put the 
edge facets on the seat as shown in 
the elevation views at right. Gradually 
move into finer grits as the seat 
comes closer to the desired shape, fin- 
ishing on the disc sander with 120 grit 
paper. Use a palm sander and hand 
sanding, beginning with 100 grit and 
ending with 180, to complete the for- 
mation of the seat 

* -H 

Final Assembly 

Assembling any chair or stool is a bal- 
ancing act because all the parts need 
to come together at once. The best 
way to control this chaos is to get all 
the stool parts organized, making 
sure you've got the wedges handy 
along with the glue, a rubber assem- 
bly mallet and a hammer for driving 
the wedges. Go through a dry run to 
make sure everything fits before you 
start applying glue to the joints. 

Spread glue into two of the platform 
holes and partially insert one pair of 
legs. Now put glue into the stretcher 
joint holes in these two legs and 
insert the stretchers. Install the short 
stretchers into the upper holes and 
the long stretchers into the lower 
holes, and always check to see that 
the kerfs are installed perpendicularly 
to the grain in the legs. Add the other 
legs and stretchers one at a time, 
using the rubber mallet to drive any 
stubborn tenons into place. Put a little 
glue on the padauk wedges (pieces 7) 

Seat contours with platform 
layout below 

Rout Vo" deep 

yC^ / 

///' ^ .L 

// /&r± — .j 

ny ///- r 

Rout W deep 


and drive them into the tenon kerfs 
with the hammer. 

When the glue has dried, cut the 
excess off all the leg and stretcher 
tenons with a Japanese saw and sand 
the entire stool through 180 grit. After 
sanding all the parts smooth, I stained 
the stool with Minwax golden oak 
stain followed by a quality varnish. 

Install the swivel (piece 8) in the 
center of the platform, first drilling 
the pilot holes and then driving the 
screws. Now tip the platform over 
onto the bottom of the seat and adjust 
the two pieces until the perimeter of 
the seat uniformly overhangs the plat- 
form edge. Use the access hole in the 

platform to insert the drill bit for 
drilling the pilot holes and the screws 
to hold the seat down on the swivel. 

While building these bar stools we 
found that making one takes a fair 
amount of time, about eight hours, 
but building more stools takes less 
and less time per stool. This project is 
ideally suited for a production run 
and, given the popularity of this stool 
around here, you'll have lots of people 
offering to take them off your hands. 


Chris Inman is the associate editor of 
Today's Woodworker magazine, and a 
professional woodworker. 



Use a unique dovetail router bit and a few simple gluing fixtures to 
create a beautiful staved wastebasket fit for a woodworker, 

By Frank Martin 



Wastebaskets are some- 
thing most people never 
think twice about. They 
buy a plastic container at 
their local discount store and stick it 
in a cupboard. But not a woodworker. 
If something can conceivably be 
made of wood, we'll try it, and if it's 
been made of wood, we'll keep trying 
to improve it. As woodworkers, 1 
sometimes think that one of our chal- 
lenges is to take even the most ordi- 
nary item and turn it into some- ^ 
thing more useful and more 

That's exactly what I've 
done here. My wastebas- 
kets are simple to build and 
are nice enough to use in 
any room of the house. And 
making these containers 
serves a very useful pur- 
pose in my shop — I often 
end up with narrow or 
short waste pieces after 
completing a larger project, 
and making wastebaskets 
with these scrap pieces is 
much more creative than 
cutting them into Idndling. 

Getting Started 

First collect all the stock to 
begin making your waste- 
basket. I make my canis- 
ters 16" tall, so I look 
for scraps about 
18" long then 
them to 
length after 
all the other 
machining is 
done. Choose 
pieces at least 
1 W wide. Since 
most of my scraps are 
3/4" thick, I resaw 
them in half to get 

the greatest yield. For the basket 
described here you'll need 30 slats, 
although I recommend cutting a few 
extra for test cuts and to have around 
just in case you make a mistake. If 
you lack the tools to resaw and plane 
your scraps you can buy 1/4" thick 
stock through mail order suppliers. 

Joint one edge of the 3/4" thick by 

18" pieces and then rip the lumber 

into l 3 jfe" wide strips. Be 

sure to use a sharp saw blade to form 
crisp, clean edges — a dull blade tears 
(he wood, resulting in a ragged joint 
when the pieces are glued together. 
Next, resaw all the strips in hah on a 
bandsaw, which will handle this oper- 
ation safely. Clamp a fence 3/8" away 
from the blade to make these cuts. 
Always use a push stick to pass the 
last few inches of the stock through 
the blade. Once the resawing is fin- 
ished, plane the strips to 1/4" in 
thickness. The slats are now ready 
for the next step, which is 
the key to building this 

Beveling the Edges 

Whether the waste- 
basket is a perfect cir- 
cle or elongated into an 
oval, the basic principle 
is still the same — all 
the pieces in the 
curved segments 
require beveled edges 
so that as the slats are 
joined together they 
each turn a small 
amount, and gradually 
add up to a 360° circle. 

I get the best and 
most consistent joints 
by using a 7Vz° dovetail 
bit to cut the bevels on 
the slats (available by 
mail order through Eagle 
America at 800-872- 
2511). The beauty of 
using this bit is that 7 W 
is evenly divisible into 
360°. Joining two slats 
with their edges routed 
at 71/2° creates a 15° 
bend. The half circle at 
each end of the wastebas- 
ket is comprised of 180°, 
so twelve beveled joints are 
required to turn the slats 


through this arc. Ten of these joints 
are made by gluing together slats with 
bevels on both edges (pieces 1), and 
the last two joints are formed when 
the transition slats (pieces 2), which 
are beveled on only one edge, are 
added to each end of the half circle. 

Set up the router table and chuck 
the dovetail bit in the router. Raise the 
bit to project above the table surface 
5/16" and clamp a fence exactly 1 l A" 
away from the lowest point on the bit 
(See Figure 1). Rout one edge on 26 
of the slats and then reposition the 
fence IV away from the bit. Now 
ront the other edge on 22 of these 
slats (pieces 1) , making sure that both 
bevels are cut on the same face on all 
the slats. The four pieces with only 
one beveled edge are the transition 
slats (pieces 2) that blend the curved 
segments into the flat side areas. Now 
set the fence on your tablesaw exactly 
1 ; W from the blade and rip your 
remaining four square slats (pieces 3) 
to size along with the unbcveled edge 
of your four transistion slats. 

When all 30 pieces are cut to width, 
use the tablesaw to crosscut the slats 
to 16" in length. Once the pieces are 
cut, set up a 7/32" wide dado to cut 
1/8" deep grooves in the slats for 
holding the wastebasket bottom 
(piece 4) in place. This truly is an odd 
width, but most 1/4" plywood is actu- 
ally closer to 7/32" thick and, believe 
me, I've made the sloppy mistake of 
cutting 1/4" dadoes for this purpose 
so often that I've learned to anticipate 
the problem. Clamp a spacer block on 
the rip fence and adjust the fence to 
make dado cuts 1/4" from one end in 
all the slats, as shown in Figure 2. 

Figure 2: When crosscut ling ur dadoing the slats, 
always use a spacer block to prevent the wood 
from binding between the fence and hlaile. 

Note that among the four 
transition pieces, two slats 
must enter the blade bevel 
side first while the other 
two must enter the blade 
with their square edge 
first. This is necessary 
since the slats on either 
end of the half circles are 
mirror images of each 

Joining the Slats 

Before you start joining 
your slats together, make 
the special angled gluing 
jig shown in Figure 3. 
This jig effectively holds 
one beveled slat while 
another one is joined to it. 
The trough running down 
the middle of the jig allows " 
excess glue that's squeezed from the 
joint to flow away from the stock, 
helping to create a cleaner operation. 
Run a bead of glue on the edge of one 
slat with bevels on both edges 
(pieces 1) and slip this piece under 
the jig's hold down cleat. The glued 
edge of the slat should overhang the 
runoff trough. Now put glue on the 
edge of another double beveled slat 
and place it on the jig. Remember 
that the dadoes for holding the bot- 
tom, as well as the ends of the slats, 
must line up. Hold the assembly light 
with spring clamps which, if posi- 
tioned correctly, will force the sloped 
piece into the stationary slat to close 
up the joint. 

Continue gluing pairs of double 
beveled slats together until you have 
ten complete sets. This will leave you 
with two double beveled slats which 
should each be joined to one of the 
transition pieces (pieces 2). While 
you're waiting for the glue to dry on 
the beveled pairs of slats, pull out a 
few bar clamps and join the two sets 
of square edged slats (pieces 3) mak- 
ing up the flat segments on the 
wastebasket. There are now two tran- 
sistion slats left and these should be 
glued to the two piece flat segments 
you just glued up. As soon as the 
glue sets during any of these assem- 
blies, remove the slats from the jigs 
and clean off the glue squeezeout 
with a slightly dulled chisel. 

Figure 1 : Bevel one edge on 26 slats while they are slightly 
oversized, then reset the fence to bevel the second side on 22 
of these slats. Remember to always approach the hit so that it 
is rotating into the stock, which in this case is from the lett. 

Forming the Half Circles 

After all the beveled slats are joined 
in sets of two, begin gluing the pairs 
into sets of four. To help with this 
assembly, cut a piece of scrap pine 
measuring 3/4" by 1 1 /2 n by 20", and 
snugly install it into the tablesaw's 
miter gauge slot. Take another piece 
of 3/4" pine, cut it 3" wide by 14" 
long, and rout a 3/4" wide by 3/8" 
deep dado down the middle of one 
face. This will serve as the platform 
for the clamping weight during 
assembly, as shown in Figure 4. 

Spread glue on the slat edges that 
will be joined and set the two pairs of 
slats between the saw fence and the 
pine strip. Now move the tablesaw rip 
fence toward the pine strip until each 
of the assembly's outside edges con- 
tacts either the fence or the pine 
strip. Next, set the pine platform on 
top of the assembly with the dado 
straddling the joint line and add a few 
pounds of weight to force the joint 
together. I prefer to use sand packed 
into a small bag for my additional 
weight. Sand is dense, so it doesn't 
take much to get the weight I need, 
and the sand bag conforms to the 
platform, spreading out the weight 
while staying balanced. Put some 
paper under the joint to catch any 
glue drops as they will stain the cast 
iron tablesaw surface. 

You'll soon have six segments con- 
taining four slats apiece (two of which 


start with a translation slat), and two 
flat segments, each of which also 
begins with a transition slat. Continue 
using your sliding gluing jig and glue 
two of the four slat segments togeth- 
er, making sure that one segment of 
each begins with a transition slat. To 
complete one of the half circles, join 
this eight slat segment to another 
four slat segment that doesn't include 
a transition piece. Repeat this process 
with the other half and you'll end up 
with four subassemblies; two half cir- 
cles and two straight segments. 

Completing the Circle 

Dry assemble all the pieces in the 
wastebasket, drawing the two circular 
ends together with the two flat seg- 
ments. Place a spring clamp on each 
unglued joint to hold things steady 
and wrap a couple of web clamps 
around the container. Check to make 
sure all the joints fit evenly and trim 
the flat segment edges if necessary 

While the basket is assembled 
trace its inside shape onto a piece of 
1/4" plywood. Now enlarge the out- 
line by 3/32" to get the full shape of 
the bottom (piece 4) . This extra mate- 
rial reaches into the dado in the 
wastebasket wall. Cut the bottom 
shape out of the plywood sheet with a 
handsaw then slip the panel into the 
wastebasket dado to make sure it fits. 

Put glue on the remaining joints 
and into the bottom dado. Insert die 
bottom into one of the half circles and 
add the rest of the walls around it. Put 
the spring clamps back into place 
and pull the web clamps tight around 
the wastebasket. 

Clean up as much glue as possible at 
this point, for getting dried glue out of 
the inside of the wastebasket later is 
very difficult. Use a damp rag to wipe 
the glue away, continually rinsing the 
rag in clean water in order to avoid 
pushing the glue around on the wood. 

Once the assembly is dry, round 
over the top and bottom edges with a 
file and sandpaper, and sand the rest 
of the structure. Finish the wastebas- 
ket with a couple of coats of Tung Oil 
and top it all off with a coat of paste 
wax to keep the wood clean. You now 
have a nice enough wastebasket that 
you'll feel guilty everytime you throw 
trash into it! 


Frank Martin started woodworking for 
a hobby after he retired as a staff 


1 Beveled Slats (22) 


1/4" x 1 3 /is"x 16" Cherry 

2 Transition slats (4) 

1/4" x 13/is"x 16" Cherry 

3 Square Slats (4) 

1/4" x 13/ib"x 16" Cherry 

4 Bottom (1 ) 

1/4" x 11" x 14" (Plywood) 



How To Use Bleach In 


By Jerry TerHark 

There are two key reasons that 
bleach often finds its way into the 
woodworker's shop; uniformity and 
finishing repairs. 

If you're considering using bleach, 
remember to always try it first on a 
sample area so that you'll know what 
to expect. It's possible that the bleach 
won't have a profound impact so it 
may not be the right answer for your 
problem. You may also find that the 
bleach solution has to stay on the 
wood longer than you expected in 
order for it to do the job thoroughly. 
These are things you should know 
before you get going on the real piece. 

You should also remember that the 
wood must be well sanded for the 
bleach to work effectively. Sanding 
opens the pores of the wood, allowing 
the bleach to penetrate below the sur- 
face. As a result, more wood fibers are 
lightened, giving better uniformity to 
the wood color and greater stain pene- 
tration. Getting the bleach into the 
wood deeper also makes it harder to 
sand through the bleached layer when 
preparing the surface for finishing. 

Bleaching is often used to blend a 
panel of boards so that dark areas 
stain the same tone as light areas. 
That's what I mean by uniformity. It 
can be applied to the whole panel to 
bring it to a completely neutral base, 
or applied sparingly to just (he dark 
areas to get them to approximately 
match the lighter spots. One thing 
that bleach will not do is change the 
color of the wood after it's been 
stained, unless you used aniline dyes. 
I've found (hat chlorine bleach works 
well at removing these dyes. 

Three Kinds Of Bleaches 

The weakest type of bleach is ordi- 
nary chlorine laundry bleach, techni- 
cally known as sodium hypochlorite. 
This type is often used for removing 
feint water splotches and for lighten- 
ing wood slightly, but I've found that 
it's not particularly effective, especial- 
ly after sitting on the shelf for a cou- 
ple of months. A better option is to 

pick up some concentrated sodium 
hypochlorite at your local paint store 
and mix it with warm water. This type 
of bleach can be neutralized with 
common white vinegar. 

The next type of bleach suitable for 
using on wood is oxalic acid, which 
excels at removing black spots from 
oak. Oak is loaded with tanic acid, 
which easily reacts with iron to create 
those ugly black marks with which 
we are all so familiar. The iron usually 
comes from water or a bar clamp 
used during a gluing operation. The 
next time you have this problem, 
apply oxalic acid to the entire wood 
surface and, once the bleaching 
action is complete, neutralize it with 
baking soda and water (one teaspoon 
of soda to eight ounces of water). 

The strongest of all wood bleaches, 
and the best for lightening the natural 
color of wood, is actually a two part 
bleach consisting of hydrogen perox- 
ide and caustic soda. Pour the solu- 
tions into separate glass or plastic 
containers and, using a synthetic bris- 
tle brush, apply the hydrogen perox- 
ide to the wood. Spread out any pud- 
dles that accumulate. After a few 
minutes, while the solution is still wet 
on the wood, take the same brush 
and apply some of the caustic soda. 
Let it dry and repeat the process if 
you need the wood lighter. When the 
wood has reached the desired color 
vinegar is again used to neutralize the 

Whichever bleach you use, remem- 
ber to always neutralize when you're 
done. If you forget to, your oversight 

In our glued up sample panel, a darker middle 
board was purposely selected. At the left end we 
sanded and went right to a stain. On the tight end 
we first tried oxalic acid (not strong enough) and 
tlicu applied the two part bleach t» bring 
uniformity to the panel. After staining, it was 
clear that the bleach had done its job. The 
middle section was bleached and left unstained. 

will come back to haunt you the next 
day. Recently one of my students did 
forget, and the next day his darkly 
stained piece of furniture was a 
bright shade of orange. 

It's also very important to sand 
before the finishing to remove the 
raised fibers. Don't get carried away 
with this sanding however, or you'll 
go right through your bleaching 
depth. I normally sand the raised 
grain with 240 or 280 grit paper. 

Safety Reminders 

When using bleach, as with any 
chemicals, you must always make 
safety your number one concern. 
Bleaches burn. They burn your skin, 
your eyes and, if enough gets on you, 
it can penetrate through the pores of 
your skin and burn very deeply. 
Always wear rubber gloves and gog- 
gles, and a heavy apron of some kind, 
preferably rubber although canvas or 
denim will do. Finally, and this is very 
important, if you're applying bleach 
with paper towels or old rags, be 
absolutely sure to soak them in vine- 
gar before disposal to avoid sponta- 
neous combustion. 


Jerry TerHark lectures nationwide on 
finishing and heads Dakota County 
Technical Institute's wood finishing 
program in Rosemount, Minnesota. 



Getting Started In Biscuit Joinery 

By Hugh Foster 


While watching public television the 
other day, I saw one of the nation's 
most famous woodworkers demon- 
strate the use of biscuit joinery on his 
mitered cupboard door frames. His 
work was fine until he decided to rein- 
force the biscuits with nails, "for 
strength." ff he's not sure what bis- 
cuit joinery is all about, then it's a fair 
bet that there are quite a few wood- 
workers who aren't too sure either. 

In use, biscuits most closely resem- 
ble dowels, although they can also 
replace mortise and tenon joints in 
many applications. The procedure for 
using biscuits is to first cut mating 
slots in the adjoining pieces with the 
biscuit joiner. Next, inject glue into 
the slots and insert the football 
shaped biscuits into one of the joining 
pieces. Draw the other piece onto the 
biscuits and align the surfaces so that 
they are flush. 

Biscuit joinery provides much more 
flexibility than a dowel joint as the 
oversized slots allow nearly 1/4" of 
lengthwise play. Another advantage of 
biscuits is that they swell when con- 
tacting water based glues, which, on 
the one hand, reduces the need for 
lots of clamps, but also means that 
you have to work fast when aligning 
the joint. 

Since more gluing surface is creat- 
ed in a biscuit joint than in a dowel 
joint the seams are stronger. Biscuit 
joinery is faster than any other joining 
method and the results are at least as 

strong as any mortise and tenon, 
tongue and groove, or spline joint. 
Even load bearing shelves, like those 
in bookcases, can be biscuit joined 
into place. The photo at far right 
clearly illustrates the strength of a 
biscuit. Notice that the material 
around the joint has failed while the 
biscuit itself is completely intact after 
withstanding two heavy hammer 
blows — and the glue had dried for 
only 15 minutes! Needless to say, 
changing your mind about a joint is 
not advisable and nails for extra 
strength are completely unnecessary. 

Biscuits are made of bias-cut, com- 
pressed beechwood. Three sizes are 
available: (5/8" x 1W), 10 (3/4" x 
2 1/8") and 20 (1" x 2%"). Generally, 
the rule of thumb is to use the largest 
biscuit you can for the pieces you 
intend to join. The .148" thick biscuits 
are thinner than the 5/32" (.156") 
saw blade that cuts the slots, but the 
addition of glue rapidly swells the 
biscuit so it fills the space and grips 
the joining material extremely tightly. 
This gripping action permits you to 
cycle youi' clamps from one assembly 
to another faster than with other join- 
ery techniques. 

The biscuit joiner excels at making 
quick, accurate butt joints, but it's 
also good for making edge joints, 
internal carcase joints, and mitered 
joints. With practice and a little imagi- 
nation, you'll adapt biscuit joinery to 
a wide variety of unique situations. 

Moving On To Specifics 

The Ryobi JM-100 is the most inter- 
esting new biscuit joiner to reach the 
market. This is the first Japanese join- 
er on the U.S. market and it's making 
a serious rim at the best tool in the 
business, the Lamello Top-Ten, 
without climbing into the same price 
range. The JM-100 lists for about 
$300, but a careful shopper will find it 
discounted for under $235. Its 4" 
diameter blade runs on a 7/8" spin- 
dle, the largest in the industry, and 
cuts as deeply as 25/32" to easily fit 
the largest biscuit. Having a 180° 
range of adjustment, the Ryobi sports 
the largest fence in the industry, 
which can be used to cut miters 
against the inside or the outside of a 
workpiece (something most joiners 
require a series of blocks to achieve). 
With the largest face plate and fence 
of any of the joiners, the Ryobi has an 
adjustment range of 2V4", compared 
to 1 W capacity on the Lamello Top 
Ten and most other joiners. Even 
though it offers these large features, 
its overall dimensions are only ll 7 /io" 
long, by 6 "te" wide, by 6" high. 

The face plate is completely cov- 
ered with rubber, making it very 
steady, and the tool comes with a 
standard dust bag. The D-handle is 
easy to grasp and control, and the 
lock-on switch is in perfect position 
for a right 

Lamello's unit (at far left) is 
the Cadillac of biscuit joiners, 
hut at ahout half the price the 
new Ryobi (left) offers 
comparable quality 
and features. 

(right) is the 
author's oho ice for 
the budget minded. 


Running at 5.3 amps and 9000 RPM, 
the Ryobi is one of the quietest join- 
ers on the market, a feature worth 
considering if you'll be using the tool 
for hours at a time. Very little mainte- 
nance is required and the motor 
brushes are easily replaceable. One 
thing that I noticed was that 1 couldn't 
move Ryobi's unique fence out of 
square. After playing around with it 
for a while I learned the reason for 
this is the fence's excellent design, 
and not the mere "newness" of the 
tool. The Ryobi offers many quality 
features in a very thoughtful design, 
and I'm recommending the JM-100 as 
the best available mid-priced joiner on 
the market 

The Delta JS-100 stationary biscuit 
joiner has come down in price so that 
a careful shopper can find it for about 
$300. At first I was somewhat skepti- 
cal of a stationary machine, but after 
using it for a year, I like it much bet- 
ter than 1 thought I would. You still 
can't cut internal T-joints with it, but 
for all other standard operations the 
Delta is one of the fastest and most 
accurate biscuit joiners around. At its 
current price I'm tempted to call this 
the best batgain on the market today. 
If your joinery projects don't require 
internal T-joints, you should give the 
Delta careful consideration. 

The Porter-Cable §555 is my recom- 
mended budget priced unit. Porter- 
Cable markets an American made 
joiner that has been improved several 
times since it was originally intro- 
duced, and it has just been improved 
again. Porter-Cable's latest improve- 
ment is the #556 flap face, which per- 
mits the machine to miter any angle 
under 90°. This is a feature I've only 
found on one other machine, the 
Lamello Top Ten. 

While the #555 emulates many fea- 
tures of the Lamello Top Ten, there 
are reasons that the Lamello machine 
is three hundred dollars more expen- 
sive than the Porter-Cable. What you 
get for the extra money is precision, 

although, as with most 
products of this nature, 
the last 3-10% of improve- 
ment may triple the price you 
pay. With several generations of 
biscuit joining machines on the 
market since the middle fifties, 
there's no company that knows more 
about precision biscuit joinery than 
Lamello. While their machines are 
indeed premium priced, the reasons 
are readily apparent. 


Lamello accessories are among the 
best reasons to have a biscuit joiner 
of any brand. Lamello has begun 
packaging their professional acces- 
sories for marketing in home centers 
and the less esoteric catalogues. Now 
occasional users can buy small quan- 
tities of standard joining biscuits, alu- 
minum quick connector plates for 
making knock-down furniture, K20 
clamping biscuits for use on projects 
that would be too difficult to clamp in 
a more standard way, C20 plates for 





tamello's new 
line nf quality 
biscuit joiner 
are a real 
benefit to 
anyone who 
awns or plans 
to purchase 
one of these 


joining Corian 
and other decora- 
tive synthetic panels, 
and Lamello hinges, 
which are one of the hall- 
marks of elegant design. Lamello 
even offers a "spanner set" with 
three sizes of aluminum profiles that 
permit rapid clamping of biscuit- 
joined carcase assemblies. 

New this year from Lamello is a 
metered dispensing glue bottle with a 
plastic tip that fits the biscuit slots. 
This unit spreads just the right 
amount of glue on the walls of the 
slot and stores the bottle upside 
down so you don't have to wait for the 
glue to flow to the tip. Every biscuit 
joiner user should seriously consider 
this valuable accessory. It is seldom 
discounted from its $45.00 list price, 
but you will readily recover this cost 
in glue and time savings. Another 
new Lamello product is the H-9 bis- 
cuit, which is only 1 l li [ long. This bis- 
cuit requires a special cutter that will 
fit any joiner except the Ryobi (due to 
its 7/8" spindle) and is used to join 
picture frame stock as narrow as 
1 W. If you do much framing this bis- 
cuit is almost a necessity. 

It may be important to note that 
there is no "bad" biscuit joiner avail- 
able on today's market. Whether you 
choose the models I've mentioned 
from Porter-Cable, Delta, Ryobi or 
Lamello, or other time tested models 
from Elu, Freud, Kaiser or Virutex, 
you can be sure that biscuit joining 
will forever change the way you plan 
and build your projects. I recommend 
that you try the joiners with features 
that appeal to you, and that you make 
your selection based on your needs 
and price range. There is a good qual- 
ity tool in every category and biscuit 
joinery is sure to revolutionize the 
way you approach woodworking. 


Hugh Foster is an English teacher, fur- 
niture builder and freelance writer 
based in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. 



Brookf ield Craft Center 



Since 1954 the Brookfield Craft Cen- 
ter (PO Box 122, Brookfield CT 
06804) has been promoting and pre- 
serving the skills of American crafts- 
men. This nonprofit organization has 
two campuses open year round 
and offers a wide variety of 
educational programs for 
ail ages and interest lev- 
els. The Brookfield Craft 
Center is recognized as 
one of the finest nonaca- 
demic schools for profes- 
sional study in America. 

Besides such traditional crafts 
as ceramics, weaving, metal- 
smithing, woodworking and stained 
glass, the Center offers many other- 
courses, including boat building, 
computer use, home building and 
restoration, photography, design 
theory, and business and marketing 
for artists. Their workshops are 
taught by nationally acclaimed 
artists and craftsmen. The works on 
these pages are all by the Center's 
woodworking faculty. 


Table; Blistered Maple Veneer 
with solid curly maple apron, 
ebony and silver 
By James Schriber 

Desk; Australian Lace wood 
By Jere Osgood 


Bench; Oak & Biibinga 
By Mark Sfirri 

Bent Plywood 
and Maple 
By Sena Stem 


Zoot Scoot; Beat Plywood ami Maple 
By Sena Stem 

Folding Screen; Mali og any 
By Mark Sfirri & Robert Bodge 

Bowl; Maple Borl 
By Al Stirt 

Rosewood Inhabitant; Box Elder Burl 
with Rosewood Projections 

By Michael Mode 
(photo by Bob Garrett) 

Spindle Sculptures; Walnut 
By Mark Sfirri 

Sculptural Bowl; Box Elder Burl 
By Michael Mode 
(photo by Bob Garrett) 


Elm (Ulmus spp.) 

It comes as no surprise that the first 
pothole-ridden roads that helped to 
tame the wilderness were ruthlessly 
tough on wooden wagon wheels. It 
didn't take long for settlers to discov- 
er the clearly superior choice if wheel 
hubs were to withstand the violent 
jolts over these primitive roads. Their 
shock-resistant choice was elm — a 
species with a wildly twisting and 
interlocking grain pattern. 

Elm resists splitting better than any 
other common domestic species. 
Anyone with intentions of turning elm 
into firewood will soon discover the 
back-breaking difficulty of splitting it 
with an ax. However, elm is an excel- 
lent choice when another wood mem- 
ber is being pounded into it — such as 
when the back spindles are pounded 
into a Windsor chair seat made from 
elm (a very popular choice for this 
application) . 

Dutch elm disease, a fungus carried 
by bark-boring beetles accidentally 
introduced from Europe, has ravaged 
nearly the entire range of elms in the 
United States, Supplies of elm lumber 
and veneer are readily available 
today, but this disease will 
undoubtedly make elm much 
more scarce in the future. 

There are 

mixed results 

when it comes to 

the workability of 

elm. Carvers 

and turners will find it to be a relative- 
ly friendly wood, but chiseling often 
results in uncontrolled splintering 
because of its interlocking grain. For 
a moderately hard and heavy wood 
(similar to walnut on both counts), 
elm poses no special problems for 
straight-line cuts made with power 
tools. When storing elm, be sure to 
protect your wood from humidity and 
moisture because it is highly suscep- 
tible to distortion. Like most species 
with a coarse, open-grained texture, 
elm glues, stains and finishes excep- 
tionally well. 

The reddish-tan color of elm makes 
it an attractive choice for furniture, 
accessories and trim. Generally 
speaking, this wood is best suited for 
indoor uses because it has little decay 
resistance when exposed to moisture, 
air and the ground. Ironically, when 
elm is completely submerged in the 
ground or water, it is one of the most 
decay-resistant woods known. Long 
before cast iron or concrete sewer 
pipes came on the scene, hollowed 
elm logs often served this purpose, 
and many were slill intact centuries 
after being installed!